The Reverend is a happy man.
Gone is the renowned loudmouth prone to making outlandish statements, claiming to be the reincarnation of Bob Marley or comparing Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell to Hitler.
In its place is a more reflective musician, more than happy with his lot.
The frontman of Sheffield favourites Reverend and The Makers turns 34 next month. He is married to the band’s keyboard player Laura, and the couple are proud parents to a young son.
Jon McClure has grown up.
“There’s always that myth you have to suffer for your art and I used to believe it,” says Jon, “but it’s nonsense. It’s good to be happy.”
Jon admits the outbursts were ways of shocking journalists and getting his band noticed, fed up with being asked about his incredibly famous mates and then darlings of the media, the Arctic Monkeys.
“When you’re 20 you’re a bit more insecure,” he says. “When you’re older, you can be a bit more honest . It’s all right to not be as big a U2.
“I have been doing music for 11 years. I am happy to still be doing it.
“Richard Hawley,” he says, namedropping another famous friend on the Sheffield music scene, “is on his ninth album, he’s still there, that’s where I want to be.
“He gave me a bit of advice once. He said ‘everything is coming to you , just let it come’.”
And what is coming to the band at the moment is almost universal praise for their latest album, ahead of a live tour in support of the long-player, which kicks off tonight.
Mirrors, out now, is the fifth studio album from the band of Jon, Laura, guitarist Ed Cosens, bassist Joe Carnall junior and drummer Ryan Jenkinson.
Each song melds into the next in Jon’s answer to the dreaded “concept album”.
He has also relinquished some control – no longer singing or writing, or at least co-writing, every track.
“I don’t sing it all,” he says. “Ed sings four tracks, Joe two and Laura one, I also don’t write all the songs.”
And the changes have gone down well.
Louder Than War calls it the band’s “masterpiece”, while NME says it is “as inspired as Reverend and The Makers have ever been”.
Jon is particularly proud of the words of praise from The Libertines’ Carl Barat, who has called it a “magnum opus”, and none other than Noel Gallagher, who said: “It sounds like nothing I’ve heard since the great concept albums of the ’60s.”
It may not have the commercial success of the band’s debut, The State of Things, which reached number five on the back of top 20 singles Heavyweight Champion Of The World and He Said He Loved Me, but Jon is incredibly proud of it.
“Maybe I am more confident in the quality of music, that it works. This one is the best.
“I personally do love it. The Libertines and Noel Gallagher have said nice things about it. I don’t think I need to shout about it.”
The album was recorded in “wonderful” Jamaica and is accompanied by a film by acclaimed director Roger Sargent, shot in Jamaica to accompany each song on the album.
It is a return to form after some mixed offerings since The State of Things.
“We have made some music not as good,” admits Jon. “Some prople are reluctant to hear it, but when they do, they love it.
“Some people don’t make their best music until their 30s or 40s. It’s unusual to come out at 17 and make the best album.
“All our albums reached the top 20, which is great, but the quality has not been as good as it could have been.”
Jon is particularly proud of album number two, French Kiss in the Chaos, although it is probably their least successful
With albums three and four, @Reverend_Makers and Thirty Two, he admits that, while there are “some good tracks”, they are “patchy”.
“I hope our fans are excited by our new direction,” he says, which they are, I see that already. And also, as a musician, you want your peers to love it and they do. That’s everything to me. Whatever you’re doing, if someone ddoing the same thing says your doing well, it’s a big honour.”
The band take Mirrors on the road with a 12-date tour, including a sell-out show at Sheffield’s 2,350-capacity O2 Academy on Saturday.
The tour officially kicks off in Manchester tomorrow, although the band play a warm-up gig at Holmfirth’s Picturedrome tonight.
“We have not always been this good live, only really about the last four years, when I cheered up. People come and have a party.
“I feel dead lucky we have still got enough people to come.”
And judging by tour ticket sales – with two shows sold out and several others down to the last few tickets – the band have more than enough people wanting to come.
For tour details, see www.reverendmakers.com